Pedro Sánchez backs dialogue "without deadlines" with the Generalitat

He notes the positions are distant and defends an agenda for reunion

3 min
The Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez, and the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, in the Chamber of Deputies of Palau

BarcelonaAfter an almost two-hour meeting in the Palau de la Generalitat's Sala dels Diputats, the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, has given a press conference to assess the second meeting he has held with the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, since the latter took over as head of the Catalan executive. The first was in Madrid, where they agreed to call a meeting of the negotiating table in the week of September 13. The second was today in Barcelona and initiated a dialogue which, according to Pedro Sánchez, will be "without haste" or "deadlines" in order to address the political situation in Catalonia.

"If we want to maintain a serious and in-depth dialogue to resolve the conflict it will take us time," Pedro Sánchez warned, highlighting that the Spanish and Catalan governments are committed to "dialogue" to seek "agreed solutions" after the 2017 referendum and the declaration of independence. "We have agreed that we would work without haste, without pause and without setting dates," he explained about the meeting he held with Aragonès, remarking that the situation in Catalonia created in the last ten years will not be resolved tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. "We open this stage with renewed energy," he said, admitting that the positions are "very distant" in the face of the Generalitat's request for amnesty and self-determination. "Neither the referendum nor amnesty are possible," he made clear, pointing out that they have no place in the Constitution and that it does not suit Catalan society, in his opinion, after the 2017 "crisis" and the pandemic. "We will have to listen to each other a lot and talk a lot about those aspects on which we can reach agreements," he concluded, also prescribing dialogue "between Catalans".

The Spanish president has defended an agenda for reunion, which consists of a commitment to "dialogue" from the Spanish government and economic, social and new infrastructure development, as he explained without any more specifics. He said that the Spanish government has made an "analysis" of the Generalitat's demands in recent years, alluding to the 46 points former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont sent to then head of the Spanish executive Mariano Rajoy and added that there are many that can be explored. All, in fact, he noted, except the referendum on independence. In any case, Sánchez has asked to give importance to the "images" of his visit to the Palau de la Generalitat - he said that it does not happen every day that a Spanish president visits it - and that this alone is already in itself a "political message".

The two presidents have held a meeting that has preceded another meeting between Spanish and Catalan ministers, who are to agree on the working methodology of the negotiating table and which "will be revealed in the coming weeks". Four members of the Spanish cabinet -Miquel Iceta, Felix Bolaños and Isabel Rodríguez (PSOE) and Yolanda Díaz (Unidas Podemos)- and from the Catalan cabinet-Roger Torrent and Laura Vilagrà, both from ERC-. The two presidents entered the meeting to inaugurate it and then left for the rest to continue.

Pedro Sánchez has arrived punctually at three o'clock in the afternoon to Plaça Sant Jaume, with all accesses cut off by police. He was received with honours by the major Josep Lluís Trapero of the Catalan police at the doors of the Palau, where president Aragonès was waiting for him. They greeted each other and maintained a brief conversation before climbing the stairs of the Gothic Gallery.

The Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, and the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, in the Pati dels Carruatges in the Palau de la Generalitat

The Spanish delegation of the negotiating table was received at Plaça Sant Jaume at half past three by Ministers Roger Torrent and Laura Vilagrà

JxCat's absence

The meeting took place with a resounding absence: Together for Catalonia (JxCat). "I respect the delegation decided by the Generalitat", Pedro Sánchez answered, when asked about this issue, avoiding commenting on the crisis between the two partners of the Catalan coalition government.

Pere Aragonès excluded JxCat's proposed delegates because they were not part of the cabinet. They were former political prisoners and senior party leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull, leader of JxCat in the Spanish parliament Míriam Nogueras, and vice president Jordi Puigneró.

Aragonès rejected the proposal and JxCat was excluded from the meeting. The president did keep the door open to incorporate JxCat as long as its delegates were cabinet members. However, JxCat did not back down, claiming that it was all a hidden veto by the Spanish government.